Trimble seeks Belfast talks

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THE ULSTER UNIONIST leader, David Trimble, is seeking cross-party talks in Belfast today after yesterday's "constructive" negotiations involving Sinn Fein at Downing Street.

Tony Blair held a series of bilateral meetings with the party leaders at No 10 to broker a way through the impasse in the peace process. A senior Unionist source said: "Our delegation met Mr Blair for about an hour. The meeting was constructive and we have made progress. Our delegation will be heading back to Belfast for more talks with the SDLP and Sinn Fein."

The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, accused Mr Trimble of "playing for time" after his rejection of the settlement plan agreed on Friday. He said it was "very frustrating" that Mr Trimble was trying to link the agreement with a deal on the Orange march at Drumcree and accused him of not putting the proposals to his own party.

The Ulster Unionist source said: "Gerry Adams is getting personal. Our bottom line is no weapons, no government."

The Unionists were also angered that Mr Trimble was under pressure to reduce his demand that IRA arms should be surrendered before he agrees to sit with Sinn Fein in a power-sharing executive. He was negotiating last night to retain tough wording on decommissioning. Mr Blair has set a deadline of 30 June for the assembly to be up and running.